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Star survives Fajardo-less SMB's late push to stay unbeaten

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--One of Star and San Miguel's early winning runs in the PBA Governors' Cup had to go on Friday night.

Despite the Beermen fighting back late into their game against the Hotshots, the absence of Junemar Fajardo turned out to be the deciding factor.

Star held on to a 104-98 win against SMB at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Hotshots heated up early in the fourth quarter, turning a 76-79 deficit at the start of the period to a 93-81 lead with 5:34 to go.

The Beermen, however, persevered, going on a 12-2 run of their own to cut the lead down to just two, 97-95, with 1:11 to go.

Malcolm Hill gave Star some cushion with his triple only for Marcio Lassiter to answer right back with his own trey with 20 seconds left.

Mark Barroca lost the ball in the next Hotshots possession, but Hill made up for the error by blocking Wendell McKines' potential equalizer with 11 seconds left. Ian Sangalang finally sealed it for them with four straight free throws.

Hill finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and one block, while Sangalang added 18 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks for Star, which moved up to 3-0.

Barroca flirted with a triple-double off the bench, tallying eight points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in a game where Coach Chito Victolero had to limit Jio Jalalon's minutes ahead of his stint with Gilas in the FIBA Asia Cup next week in Beirut.

McKines had 27 points, 22 rebounds, four assists, one block, and one steal for SMB, which fell to 2-1.

Box Scores:

Star 104-Hill 20, Sangalang 18, Reavis 13, Brondial 10, Maliksi 8, Barroca 8, Lee 7, Dela Rosa 7, Melton 6, Ramos 5, Jalalon 2, Javier 0, Simon 0

San Miguel 98-McKines 27, Lassiter 24, Santos 19, Cabagnot 12, Ross 10, Rosser 4, Espinas 2, Heruela 0, Tubid 0, Pessumal 0

Quarterscores: 24-21, 50-55, 76-77, 104-98

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno